A Conundrum and a Mea Culpa

A couple of commenters to yesterday’s blog leveled a criticism of my post that I think is valid.

My statement that many of Trump’s supporters are bigots came far too close to the same sort of name-calling that distresses so many of us when Trump engages in it. Although I did say “many” (in an effort to acknowledge that the epithet doesn’t apply to everyone who is supporting him) that statement was both too broad-brush and too dismissive. Flat assertions of that sort do not encourage mutually respectful communication, to put it mildly.

So, mea culpa.

Here’s the conundrum: It has become increasingly obvious that Trump and his most ardent supporters present a “clear and present danger” to American constitutional and social values. As a country, we need to understand the dynamics of this phenomenon, and why a man so manifestly unfit for the Oval Office nevertheless appeals to so many voters.

Survey research suggests that a significant number of Trump supporters are responding to his message of racial grievance and white nationalism–and we can’t afford to ignore that reality. We need to consider what it implies and what to do about it, because even if–even when–Trump loses, those grievances will still be there, waiting to be inflamed by the next demagogue.

We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and simply hope this ugly moment passes. We need to identify the fault lines and discuss them candidly.

That said, we need to acknowledge–I needed to acknowledge–that some people are supporting Trump because they are loyal Republicans, or because they haven’t followed the election news closely, or because they don’t trust reporting from what Sarah Palin dismisses as the “lame stream media,” or because they’re just “mad as hell and not going to take it [the status quo] any more,” and don’t recognize the likely (disastrous) consequences of electing this particular “disruptor” to the most powerful office on earth.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Trump campaign thus far has been the normalization of nasty, uncivil discourse. It should be possible to conduct even brutally honest analyses of troubling political behavior without sinking into”Trump-like” name-calling.

I intend to be more careful with my own language in the future.


53 thoughts on “A Conundrum and a Mea Culpa

  1. It is refreshing to see someone thoughtfully consider criticism and respond to it. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Sheila when in the exchange of apposing ideas in my personal life someone broad brushes another, dialog then ceases.

  3. Sheila; I didn’t view your term “many of Trump’s supporters” as painting them with a “broad brush”, those of us following his “scorched earth” path through this presidential election process have seen him and them in action. We also are aware of those who do not appear to be “responding to his message of racial grievance and white nationalism” in like manner. That is why I posted the comments regarding my friend and his Christian (for want of a better word) beliefs and lifestyle; but that “Trump” sign remains in his front yard along with the four others I can see from my front door. I consider it “calling a spade a spade”…and PLEASE do not consider that a racist slur!

    Trump now appears to have kept a list of invectives used against him to attribute to Hillary Clinton; he has no imagination and a limited vocabulary. We are now watching as he attempts to backtrack (probably due to GOP pressure) to stop the migration of Republican elected officials from refusing to support or vote for him. How long with that last? His attention span is limited and his racism and bigotry runs deep in his heart and soul; I see these efforts ending before the end of this week. If anyone wants to take issue with my comments…here is my mea culpa. I stand by each and every one having viewed this man’s history in the media for many years, long before his presidential aspirations became evident. This could be another of his whims; like the failed hotels and casinos and the many ruined businesses he refused to pay for their work and services. Either way the election goes on November 8th; we will be counted among the victims of his vast ego and inability to relate to the rights of others…including his own loyal supporters.

  4. So while it is clear (captured on video and in surveys) that a fair number of his supporters are motivated by the bigotry his rhetoric appeals to, no, it’s not all. The other ones are just mad but don’t want to do the basic research to become informed and realize that much of what he says are lies and distortions. Just blame it on the lame-stream media. And the remainder are voting for him because he’s the republican candidate, even though he himself has made it clear he’s unqualified. Ok…you can apologize for being to broad in your use of “bigotry”, but the alternative explanations for his support are not that much better.

  5. Sheila: “Although I did say “many” (in an effort to acknowledge that the epithet doesn’t apply to everyone who is supporting him) that statement was both too broad-brush and too dismissive. Flat assertions of that sort do not encourage mutually respectful communication, to put it mildly.”

    I don’t believe that broad-brushing is so bad if it’s true. Maybe there’s a better word than “bigot.”

    For example, and only for example, in Germany from the years 1934-1945 would it not be appropriate to use the word NAZI Germany even though a few young Christians like the White Rose secretly resisted Hitler? Wasn’t that broad-brushing?

    Personally, and only personally, I like the word FOOL.

    fool n. [< L follis, windbag] 1. a silly or stupid person 2. a jester 3. A VICTIM OF A TRICK, ETC; DUPE–vi. 1. to act like a fool 2. to joke 3. [Inf.] to meddle (with)–vt. to trick; deceive–fool around [Inf.] to trifle–fool'er-y n.

  6. JoAnn, being the recipient of your ire and contempt, I must say you remind me of those you criticize. I have never been a supporter of Trump, but whenever I disagree with the prevailing wind in this group, you either ignore or start spewing derogatory adjectives. I continue to post in this blog with the hope that we might find the common ground necessary to save this country from crony capitalism and its corrupt proponents. The first step in converting the unwashed is to at least feign interest in education those in enlightened one. Starting that “education” with, “Why are you such a stupid, hateful bigot?” Is probably less than ideal

  7. “Liberal societies are in danger when they tolerate the intolerant.” Even Pence objects to name calling, at least so far. He skates on thin ice though when his religious intolerance comes to the fore.

  8. I’m reminded of when ABC asked Dick Cavett to apologize for calling supporters of Lester Maddox bigots. Mr. Cavett said, “To those followers of Gov. Maddox who are not bigots, I apologize.”

    The bottom line is, if they vote for Trump, they vote for bigotry, and that is a very fine distinction to demand.

  9. Ken,

    “JoAnn, being the recipient of your ire and contempt, I must say you remind me of those you criticize. I have never been a supporter of Trump, but whenever I disagree with the prevailing wind in this group, you either ignore or start spewing derogatory adjectives.”

    When was it that you didn’t disagree with the “prevailing wind in this group?” I’ve also been attacked by JoAnn. And I have to admit we have different styles. But, JoAnn is very good at making her point. And I believe…..a lot better than you are.

  10. Ken; please list each and every one of Trump’s POSITIVE PROMISED ACTIONS voiced in his rallies and/or his acceptance speech…or evidenced by the speakers at the convention. His promised actions are to do away with those he does not accept as being worthy of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as an American citizen or an aspiring American citizen. Having spent years on the receiving end of hatred, bigotry, racism and considered to be unworthy of human rights such as respect and acceptance by my “peers”; I feel Trump’s hatred watching and reading his rants and those of his supporters.

    Exactly what do you consider to be the “prevailing wind” in Trump and his “group” other than racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-Latino (all referred to as “Mexicans” by him and his group)…and the list goes on. He has voiced three solutions to all of this country’s and the world’s problems; deport them, build a wall around this country, and “why can’t we just use nukes?”. That last one would be the beginning of the end of the world’s problems, not only our internal and diplomatic issues.

  11. We have come a long way from the time when civil discourse included soaring rhetoric urging us on to a better self. Today, civil discourse is that we don’t use any of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television to describe an opponent and even that low standard is continuously being challenged.

    There are few people alive who have no prejudices. There are even fewer who would admit to being prejudiced. Yes, many of Trump’s supporters are bigots. However, many of them are people with prejudices who are afraid of what’s happening to their world. Hearing someone validate that fear gives them a sense of community.

  12. Very few on the Progressive side of the ledger stand up for what they really believe in. It mostly comes from the fear to do battle with the “bigots.”

    JoAnn is one of the exceptional few. She’s FEARLESS. I’m sure she’s been on the front lines before. I see that as one of the most imperative virtues a person can have at this juncture in America’s comparatively short history.

  13. When we fixate on the bigotry of the Trump message at the expense of his appeal to those who only want a better economic deal we set ourselves up to fail in our own message.

  14. Thanks, Marv, I appreciate your good words because we have been in opposition at times but always return to “accent-u-ate the positive and, e-lim-i-nate the negative”. We also maintain a mutual respect.

    An after-thought while showering; I was remembering my many years as an Independent voter, there were always positive and negative issues and resolutions from both parties to consider prior to making the final decision on candidates. I have tried but not found any redeeming factors in the GOP presidential campaign; certainly NOT with their final choice. Seeking a solution to dealing with Trump I came up with one possibility to salvage the election and the GOP – for I do believe they are worthy of salvation.

    I am being facetious – that means this is a JOKE people – if Trump can claim after the fact that he was being facetious, I will protect myself by claiming the excuse before commenting. We could always select one of Trump’s own solutions to the problem; deport him, build a wall around him or, “why can’t we just use nukes?” How’s that for facetiousness! Peggy; would George Carlin agree…lol?

  15. You must admire a man that can tell you everything he knows about any subject in 142 characters.
    Most of us could never do that.
    David Brooks
    Unencumbered by facts is the real danger to America and the World.

  16. I always defer to experts on racism, bigotry, etc. The Southern Poverty Law Center works with the FBI to track hate groups. Shortly after 2008, hate groups grew by 1,800%. We all know what happened in 2008.

    If we all listened to conservative media (especially talk radio), we’d know that racism was being stoked by all the players. Why?

    Simple marketing and demographics.

    The republicans have been using racism and bigotry since Nixon coined the “Southern Strategy”. Democrats used racism long before this.

    I reposted a relevant article from Bill Moyers (http://www.muncievoice.com/15774/class-in-america-and-donald-trump/) because it discusses classes in America and Trump. Until Americans learn our history and accept our social class structure, race and bigotry, or pitting one social class against another, will be sound strategy for those seeking to divide and conquer.

  17. Todd,

    “Until Americans learn our history and accept our social class structure, race and bigotry, or pitting one social class against another, will be sound strategy for those seeking to divide and conquer.”

    There’s no better time than now. However, I’m not sure what you mean by “accept our social class structure.”

    One thing I’m sure about is that we must understand the “old guard” and its continual control of the deep systemic forces in America. If not we will lose it all. Donald Trump is only a SYMPTOM …..not even close to being the CAUSE.

    Symp-tom (simp’tem) n. [<Gr syn-, together+piptein, to fall] any circumstance or condition that indicates the existence of something, as a particular disease.
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary

  18. Since announcing his candidacy, Trump has made clear just exactly what he is. Some of his supporters are with him because that’s what they are, too, and they’re indignant about being told just how offensive their views are to what I hope is a majority of people. For whatever reason the rest of his supporters are there, they support what he is, and how that will play out in society if he wins; saying you endorse him but you don’t condone the xenophobia, bigotry, inability to tell the truth, and willfull ignorance of governing and Constitutional process, is merely an exercise in abstraction. As a Washington Post writer put it this last week, you can’t get a puppy and expect not to clean up its poop.

    Real anger should go to the Vichy Republicans- the party “leaders” and incumbants who endorse him, especially those who let him get this far by cynically exploiting his followers -his mob- for party gain. May their political careers end up on the ash heap of history when this is all over.

  19. Marv, what is this ” Webster’s New World Dictionary” you like to mention from time to time?
    Irvin BAA

  20. Accompanying the ‘d’ in Donald are additional unflattering words that also begin with ‘d’: demagogue, dilettante, and Duck Dynasty, for starters. If that be name-calling, so be it.

    Remember that bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote!

  21. Rather than dwell on Trump’s unfitness for the presidency, why don’t we focus on Clinton’s plans for meeting the issues and on her policies supporting those plans?

  22. My take on Sheila’s concern is, we know the threats that face our children, our future, our country, what is the most effective strategy to make sure of the best outcome?

    Of course in the past the answer here and many other places was Revolutionary. However we’ve improved weaponry so much since then that that option is more suicidal than progressive.

    In the 60s another approach was tried, public disobedience but that was directed at our whole government not just some of it and while it definitely did create death and destruction via culture clash the government was there to referee.

    Of course throughout history there have been intellectual revolutions too, the enlightenment comes to mind.

    I sincerely believe that we are here in the process of deciding how to proceed among those options.

    As I have pointed out previously a group that began in 1938 and invested decades in carefully investing in influence defines the current threat. Their strategy is intellectual at its core but as their goal is wealth concentration which they’ve been very successful at achieving they employ wealth to “sell” their vision. That is the very definition today of media.

    We have in our midsts here those who have been sold on that mission and those who have not. Those who have not are not just less suckered but have considered that vision and see it as the end of freedom. We think that the intellectual vision is very flawed and driven by the fear among the beneficiaries of the end of the Entitlement Era which it is our goal to bring about.

    We need to organize and defeat that organized oligarchic threat to what we believe in. We are responding not initiating.

    How best to do that? In a way we are organized to do that. It is the Democrat Party vs the GOP. We have a strategy, democracy. We have tactics, the current campaign. We are proceeding here and now in our own mostly disorganized somewhat blundering messy way.

    Sheila recommends more civility, political correctness, intellectualism and less emotion. I think that is effective towards some who would otherwise tend to vote for the Neolibral vision, but not all.

    JoAnn tends to employ another approach which climate science has also found to be effective, the personal narrative.

    Hillary has been both praised and criticized for her approach too but it is obviously from the polls effective.

    I personally don’t believe that we either can or should pursue a less variable strategy as in diversity we find democracy. The approach of each of us will resonate among some of the opposition and we’ll each do our share.

    Just remember the measure of our success is very specific. Votes counted against Neolibralism on election day.

  23. This is one time I have to disagree. By definition many Trump supporters are bigots. They hold opinions not based on facts but lies and innuendo. I can show tolerance for others’ opinions when based on fact. Some of these supporters are so far our there there isn’t anything to discuss.

  24. Valerie,

    ” ….By definition many Trump supporters are bigots. They hold opinions not based on facts but lies and innuendo. I can show tolerance for others’ opinions when based on fact. Some of these supporters are so far out there there isn’t anything to discuss.”

    Unfortunately, you’re so right. Some of us seem to forget that fact.

    big-ot (big’et) n. [Fr.<?] l. one who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular creed, opinion, etc. 2. a prejudiced person.
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

  25. I think that we could find at least one of every kind amongst both Neolibrals and Hillary supporters. Clearly there are huge differences though in the proportions.

    I think that each “kind” is probably persuaded differently so saving Democracy will require some of all of the above.

    The only relevant point is how to most effectively dissuade others from voting for the Neolibral vision and pusuade those who support Democracy to actually campaign and vote for it.

    I believe those who show up here are all ready in one army or the other. It’s those behind us that need motivating.

  26. Sheila, your mea culpa is directed to supporters of Trump, not Trump, so let’s feel free to call Trump what we think he is or could be. I have just this morning compared him to Big Brother in a blog after reading 1984 for the umpteenth time. Whether it’s fascism or some other ism he would bring to America, it would be at least inimical to democratic values, and since I value democracy as the nation’s most important asset, I intend to vigorously defend it against all comers, including Trump, Pence or others who seem bent on dictatorial rule, all sans mea culpas.

  27. JoAnn, my apologies for being unclear in my previous post. You have the mistaken impression that I am supporting Trump (notwithstanding my lengthy post yesterday). Loud and Clear. Not voting for Trump. Second clarification: When I wrote, “Whenever I buck the prevailing wind of this group…” I meant Sheila’s blog. To catch others up, and summarize, you ignore my posts or list several adjectives that are less than complimentary, like stupid, ignorant, bigoted, etc. I think it was Marv that said you express yourself better than I to which I offer this challenge: teach me, persuade me, wrangle with me. I’m slow, but I am capable of learning. The sentiment that I sense on this blog is, “We’re going to eliminate the ignorant bigots and purify the country!” I assume such hatred is hyperbole…maybe not!

  28. I have a criticism, but we should probably discuss it over lunch with a strong dose of tequila. LOL

    Great post my friend and mentor!

  29. Pete,

    “I believe those who show up here are all ready in one army or the other. It’s those behind us that need motivating.”

    Maybe this will help to motivate. Many years ago, I was fortunate to have had a very long conversation with Raul Hilberg, a professor at the University of Vermont [There seems to be something very special and good about Vermont]. In his book “Perpetrators, Victims, and Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-45,” he makes it very clear that in the end there wasn’t much difference between the PERPETRATORS and the BYSTANDERS.

  30. Thank you, Sheila, for your apology. I find myself saying similaar things, though I have proised myself no to. I think that ,
    in excuse of those who are in favor of Trump, we have been given half truths, distortions, and downright lies so much that these people don’t even recognize what they are hearing is different in kind from the past norm _ and sometimes it isn’t!!! They listen Hilary and are told she is immoral and liar. They think Sanders is wacko, because he wants to try something AGAIN what most people can’t remember and never have learned.


  31. If we made a 2X2 matrix one axis of which was positive/negative the other Trump/Clinton and counted some measure of media (both formal and social) attention, here’s what I think we’d find.

    The two negative totals would be somewhat equal, the Trump/Positive total would be very small and the Hillary/Positive total very significantly higher.

    Trump negative volume would be shared both from Clinton claims and Trump reality. Clinton negative would be virtually all Trump claims. He promots attention positive or negative but there is hardly anything positive that can be claimed either from his past or about any future he claims.

    People are leaving Trumps camp in droves but only some are joining Hillary’s campaign. We’ll have to wait until election day to see what they do.

  32. “Just remember the measure of our success is very specific. Votes counted against Neolibralism on election day.” ~ Pete

    Seems to me that robust conversations and discussions outlining the proposed policies of each candidate are warranted before voters can recognize the many nebulous forms of neoliberal policies. Frankly, we’ve spent so much time speaking about Trump’s unfitness for the presidency that few can speak about Ms Clinton’s policies.

    My personal opinion leads me to say that Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who was clearly on the side of anti-neoliberalism and we know how that worked out.

    Salon Magazine’s June 6, 2016 article “This is our neoliberal nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time” offers a timely overview of what many call a conundrum.

  33. Ken, ““Whenever I buck the prevailing wind of this group…” I meant Sheila’s blog.”

    It’s clear that Sheila and most bloggers here are proudly and unabashedly liberal in world view. Why we believe that way is clarified further almost every day.

    I believe that part of being liberal is being intellectual and open to new.

    If you brought to the party some new perspective that was intellectually sound and new to our thinking I would predict that we’d be open to consideration of it.

    Whether intentionally or not you seem to typically bring an orthodox neolibralism here and it is seeing the flaws in that that makes us liberal.

    Both neolibralism and liberalism are philosophies that could be right or wrong adaptations to the environment. I would guess that in different environs either could be right but only one is, in practice, for those times.

    We see that the problems here today are primarily from neolibralism in practice and the solution is to move away from it. Some other time the reverse might become true and we’ll go obsolete.

    As I read your note you’d like to be disagreed with more respectfully. Unfortunately neolibrals set the opposite tone decades ago.

    I agree with you that going back to the tone that was would be better statesmanship and diplomacy. I think that culture being culture though that will take a while.

  34. Ken,

    “I think it was Marv that said you express yourself better than I to which I offer this challenge: teach me, persuade me, wrangle with me. I’m slow, but I am capable of learning.”

    I believe you’re sincere. The problem you’re facing on this blog comes from the success of those like Rush Limbaugh, who for at least 45 years, have done everything they could do to divide America. Let’s give them credit they have fulfilled their mission.

    From what I gather from the above post, you’re frustrated in that there isn’t a MIDDLE GROUND with the VAST majority of us on this blog. That’s true. But don’t blame us for that. That space just isn’t there anymore, at least on this blog. Maybe you try another or better still you should first read “WAR ON AMERICA” which is an inside look on the activities of Dr. James Dobson. He’s probably been more successful in dividing America than the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

    Maybe we should have a vote on who has been the most effective in “bastardizing” American politics before the November elections. What do you think?

  35. “…we are here and now with a choice between only two options.”

    Sounds rather like “There is no alternative”, Margaret Thatcher’s standard quip when advancing her neoliberal policies including free markets, free trade, and the capitalization of globalization.

    TINA, for short.

  36. Neolibralism, while formally conceived in the 30s, was latent until the 60s Great Society movement. I’m sure that there is a wide range of opinions here as to whether those were the best or worst of times but for some they were substantially more threat than progress.

    One of those was Justice Powell before his appointment by Nixon to the Supreme Court.


    His manifesto, like Marx’s Communist Manifesto or Hilter’s Mein Kampf, got people to thinking along separate and incompatible lines.

    He believed in and defined the objectives, strategy and tactics of oligarchy as an alternative to Democracy; that the wealthy were entitled to power because wealth demonstrates superior capability at all important things not just superiority at gathering resources at the expense of others. Of course some would say his thinking was colored by what was best for him but he didn’t see it that way.

    American politics since then has pretty much followed his outline but the results have been demonstrably different than what he hoped for and predicted.

    The results are what has been loudly proclaimed by most Americans this election campaign: the downfall of the once great middle class.

    If you read his manifesto this result is exactly what he wanted, a more prosperous and entitled elite class.

    He would have undoubtedly been pleased with a Trump Presidential run as Donald would have been his hero.

    OK Lewis, game on.

    Most liberals and therefore Democrats see clearly the fatal flaw in his thinking; it’s not democracy and doesn’t empower we the people but rather the entitled elite as did the British aristocracy that we booted out so long ago.

    So boot we must again.

  37. BSH, right on. Margaret proposed the Neolibral agenda as that for which there was no alternative which has done what it’s done to us but like Churchill she did recognize that sometimes there is no alternative, or TINA.

  38. Pete,

    Let’s play ball!

    Maybe William should get off the mound and let someone else try to strike you out. His fast one is no longer working. By the way, whatever happened to Martina Levi? Is she/he still available for relief duty?

  39. BSH, follow-up from yesterday.

    No question that charter schools are a prime plank in the Neolibral agenda. Improvement for some at the expense of most.

    Resisting that is obvious but what’s not so (to me anyway) is how.

    On one hand I’m tempted to say beef up the Dept of Education, there are just too many schools not teaching effectively or teaching BS.

    On the other hand I recognize teachers resisting standardization or process control.

    It’s at least somewhat true that the two positions come from different sets of teachers that we can’t differentiate because we have no measures.

    Another factor is that teachers too are the product of education and some suffer from a shortage of life long learning and are retiring at some rate.

    Doing nothing seems grossly irresponsible.

    What we are doing is making some progress from what I see but I also believe not enough.

    We need some innovation.

  40. Sheila – thanks for once again being the ‘adult’ in the room of civic discourse.

    When ‘political correctness’ is respectfulness and common courtesy and evidence of following the golden rule, it’s a good thing.

  41. Marv,

    Martina and William1 and Ken are passionate which I respect because I hate apathy. They are intelligent but intellectually undisciplined. They start with what they wish was true and look for supporting opinions rather than starting with evidence and forming opinions from that.

    It’s the plague of our times because Dr Google distributes opinions indiscriminately.

  42. Some observations…

    I am very sorry when responders to this blog attack each other. I’d like to say, “Just stop it! Go to your rooms until you can speak respectfully…” Which, of course, really worked well when my kids were small. To Ken – we (not just us here, but the world) desparately need cogent voices who can meld useful fiscal conservatism with genuine humanitarianism. We must cease arranging for our own safety and material comfort at the expense of others. How safe are we when our neighbors and their children are hungey, sick, hopeless and can easily get guns???

    Further, William and Martina (for example) give the appearance of operating in that fact free universe others of us decry. What will help you move closer to what the greater part of our fellow humans accept as factual? Climate change is real and human civilization is implicated. Hillary is an honest, human (thus imperfect like the rest of us) politician who has consistently kept the best interests of her fellow humans front and centre. She has been the target of a decades long, unrelenting, series of lying attacks that are working as so many, following the instructions of the neo- whatever cabal, believe that black is white and that the lies, repeated, are QED, the truth.

    I get your tunnel vision fear, but am at a loss at what helpful thing can be done. It is as if Abraham, with his son on the altar, knife raised to kill, chose to doubt and thus reject the word of God which would turn him from the pending disaster.

    Here is one thing I am trying to puzzle out: Respect. I want to respect those of you who disagree with me, to accept the depth of your faith, and the goodness of your intents. I cannot escape the thought that you are doubting God and refusing to put down that knife…

    Having said this, however, I recognize, to my shame, that my apparent ability to think, to out-think, to have faith – but a far-reaching sort of faith that includes the recognition of that of the devine in every creature, every atom, of our universe, not the sort of faith that seeks false security in excluding. I am slipping, sorry…I am trying to say to all of us that we must, in ourselves, find a way past any sense of superiority. We must find a humble place where our genuine alternative to the GOP so-called reality of heedless calls to battle can be heard and understood by those fearful souls captured by that crazy bloodlust. I believe that until we find that humble place, every time we open our mouths, we will insult and thus close the minds of those we most hope will hear what we are saying.

    Thank you, as always, for listening.

  43. I have read a couple of article posted by Bill Moyers and Richard Reich attempting to provide me with a better understanding of the culture of poor whites in the United States. I spent much of my youth in trailer parks so I feel like I have a small point of reference. I have facebook friends that are conservative, if not pro-Trump. Much as I want to respond to every anti Hilary meme they post, I do not because I know it will change no minds.

    The words that Sheila used yesterday are charged words that have connotations beyond their basic meaning that put them in the name calling area as Dakota explained so beautifully. I understand what I see as Sheila’s frustration with people who can’t see what will be a disaster for them. A given person may be rich in common sense and basic life skills but unable to follow the complicated causality that is present in so much that is happening to us these days, like global warming. Learning how to follow indirect causality is not something you pick up with just a grade school or, depending on the school, a high school education.

    I will be labeled as an elite (another word with connotations) for saying this but if anyone has another explanation for what is happening, I am listening.

  44. To me it’s not about the poor or wealthy. Both will always be part of America. We’ve made some halting progress at helping a few leave poverty behind. Hopefully that will reap generational dividends.

    To it’s about the great middle class. Those launching as they are able, going to work, getting married, having and raising kids and hoping for some security beyond that.

    The ones who produce all of our wealth and feed our military. The ones we as parents promised a good life to in exchange for responsibility.

    They are the ones being robbed by neolibralism.

  45. As my friend Rachael wisely says, “In an Emergency, the Rules are different…” This was a maxim she found that she needed to teach her daughter as she was imparting basic rules of manners, civility and ethics…

    If Prof. Kennedy is correct (and I suspect she is…) that we are facing a time and situation of “clear and present danger” to us and our well-being as a society, I suggest that that means that we are in the midst of an “Emergency”… And thus, perhaps, the Conundrum of which she speaks…

    There is something quite alarming about folks nattering on about mores and politesse as the whole house is burning down around us… When people of good faith and goodwill such as Prof. Kennedy feel pushed to depart from their accustomed equanimity and poise and in attempts to communicate and encourage civic literacy and civil well-being choose and use an edgier and harsher word that they would ordinarily wont, it is rather missing the point…the forest for the undergrowth…to argue manners and niceness… There are times when Logos and Ethos fail to persuade…and one must depend on skillful use of pathos…

    I, for one, am heartened by Prof. Kennedy’s acknowledgement of “the clear and present danger” which we face this Fall… Thank you for your dedication and skill poured out daily in this blog…

  46. Mary Beth,

    You might find something of interest (or, maybe not) in Rick Bragg’s autobiographical writing pieces. Bragg, born in poverty in the mountains of northern Alabama, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning correspondent for the NYTimes who writes “There is an old saying among African-Americans to the effect that any white man who lives in poverty does so by choice. This saying is based on the premise that being born with white skin is so great an advantage as to determine a successful life. The colloquialism for disadvantaged Caucasians, ”white trash,” indicates that the nation as a whole holds these people responsible for their station as well. ”Trash” means something without value, something unworthy of our attention and barely worthy of our contempt.”

    Below is a New York Times book review of Bragg’s “All Over But the Shoutin'”.

  47. JS Nelson; thank you for your comments. Anyone who does not recognize the “clear and present danger” Sheila referred to with her usual candor, hasn’t been paying attention. She did use the term “many” which translates to “a large number”; if you have watched the hundreds, in some cases thousands, of attendees across this country at Trump rallies you must admit those are large numbers – translating to “many”.

    The “good Germans” didn’t recognize the “clear and present danger” Hitler brought down on them with his shouted promises of ridding their country of the cause of all of their problems. Deportation, build a wall, “why can’t we just use nukes?” and “Make America Great Again” is the 2016 version of Hitler’s promise to rid Germany of their one and only problem, thereby improving all their lives. Per Trump; we have entire groups of problems in this country which he will rid the county of, thereby improving all our lives…referring to white males with their woman as chattel, of course.

  48. This is from a very well written Facebook post detailing why most all of the negativity directed at Hillary Clinton has as it’s basis Republican mythology.

    ” Almost nobody will admit to (sexism). Conservatives decided long ago that all such accusations (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc) are standard liberal bullshit whose only real intent is to shut down debate, and liberals tend to possess a sense of moral entitlement which leads them to consider themselves automatically exempt from all such accusations.”

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